Sunday, January 9, 2011

A New Year of Resolutions

As tradition goes, a new year is often viewed as a new beginning, an opportunity to correct or improve upon something; typically within ourselves to “make us better” than we were the year before. It’s a time of looking forward and wondering what the future holds for us and sometimes, making plans to move us toward what we want and away from that which we don’t.

While many of us have good intentions in our resolutions the routine of our days often overshadow our good intentions. As the New Year all too soon becomes the old, we can’t see our progress in relation to our intention unless we look behind us. It’s a dilemma we all face. We can do nothing about the past, can only plan for futures we imagine for ourselves, yet can only affect the present moment we live in. In the moment, it can be difficult to recognize opportunities. We may question the small steps we make as having any effect toward our progress. Or we lose sight of possibilities when stress and adversities, large and small, thwart our advancements.

I too am looking behind. I can see the steps forward I have made, and all the places where I fell down. Over the past year, in an effort to improve the quality of my time during long commutes, so as not to have them wasted minutes of my life, I began listening to audio books. Not just any audio books but those of well respected authors, like Stephen Covey, Jack Canfield, John C. Maxwell, and the newest kid on the block, Shawn Achor. Of all these, the two that have had the most impact are Covey and Achor. These two, in fact, have given me invaluable tools that I have begun implementing in my daily life with amazing effect. So much influence in fact, that I’m adopting a few principles from them as my resolutions for the New Year.

While Covey has inspired me with win/win, and opened my eyes to the damaging ways of, win/lose and lose/win, which had been my way of viewing the word, one of the most interesting chapters has to be habit 5, with ways to really understand someone, and what they are saying and feeling, before wanting or insisting they understand me first. What a revelation and inspiring habit this is, for as I discovered using this principle, that others will easily and without conflict or resentment listen openly to your thinking once you have listened, and given back to them in words better than they have given you, what it is they are trying to say to you. Sounds easy? Try it. If you are successful, you too will walk away in wonderment at the success it delivers.

However, it is Shawn Achor seven principles that I am adopting for the new year, and mixing in Stephen Coveys habits adds more power to them. Like adding a turbo kit to the motorcycle. Shawn tells us that we have been thinking backwards all of our lives and studies have proven it to be so. The flawed thinking is that happiness comes to us when we for example get our dream house, the perfect job, or a super raise. When in fact, happiness comes from within, and success follows. He equates it to the once held belief that the sun and stars revolved around the earth, when in fact, as we now know, the sun is at our center, and the earth revolves around it.

The very first principle ‘the happiness advantage” is something I’ve been practicing each morning. The results have been so successful, that I am looking to implement the other six with serious consideration. That is the point of this whole blog. Over the course of the next year, I intend to use my writing skill to document for myself and occasionally post the results as I go along. For I only have the present moment, and each step is so valuable, it needs chronicling. I want to look back, see how far I have come, know that I have reached the future I envisioned, all while living each moment with intention.

Want to start with me? Then each morning before you begin your day, place in your mind as vivid as you can one moment in your life that made you happy. It doesn’t have to be big. Something simple as how good it felt as a kid to lie in the clover and look up at the clouds. Feel the earth beneath you, take in the scent of clover, remember the warmth of the sun on your face, and the pictures you created with the clouds. Then go on with your day. The influence a pleasant memory has on you will only be evident when you look behind. Yet that one moment you have control of in the morning will pay great dividends in your future. The happiness advantage is a more powerful tool than it appears. Practice it before your next big talk with the boss, the next conference call with an angry customer, or if in school, before the next exam. The outcome of these will surprise you. You won’t ever want to go back to your old habit, which of course, is the whole point of resolutions.


Anonymous said...

You should know that someone has stolen parts of this article and posted on their tumblr without giving you credit.

PatnWilton said...

Well, I guess my words were taken!
While imitation may be a form of flattery, this does not feel right to me. There should be a link, acknowledgment or...something. Not a very nice thing to do. thanks for telling me.

Anonymous said...

this person has a history of doing this, of copying and impersonating others. the majority of her blog is copied material. I'm not sure if anything can be done but im sorry she took your entry, it's interesting and well written and should be properly credited to you.

PatnWilton said...

Thank you for the heads up A. The other site has now been taken down. Your tip has helped me understand better what I need to do to protect myself. I've made a few changes to the site. You can no longer copy and paste text. It will make things a bit harder for thieves, but alas, not impossible.